EMOTIONS AND PLASTIC SURGERY Posted in: Aesthetic Surgery

Human Emotions derive from that part we cannot either touch or measure, which are not subject to scientific authentication.

Body sensations, on the contrary, are more discernible, although they are subjective. They derive from our five senses.

Human being experience many and different emotions:

Sadness, doom, guilt, loneliness, frustration, fear, helplessness, jealousy, joy, love, bliss, trust, and many other.

Plastic Surgeons acquire with time and experience, the ability to discriminate the motivations to get an operation done in a majority of cases. Sometimes it is openly notorious, and sometimes it is deeply hidden, because of the potential to hide their feelings some patients have.

The most frequent feelings I have encountered among my patients are: fear, guilt, emptiness sensation, void or frustration and low self-esteem. On the other spectrum: excitement, ecstasy, joy, faith, and trust.

There are dozens of medical, familial, and personal history questions in my first time questionnaire (please, click Initial Questionnaire) but somewhere there, ingeniously hidden, deeply emotional questions are waiting for you to be answered. I call these questions “therapeutic”, because they usually challenge the patient in a matter of seconds, strike directly to the patient’s psyche and everyone, without exception, overcome the challenge, and get insight over unconscious traps. After more than 25 years of practice I have learned to place these questions in the proper place in the questionnaire,

If I say that all of them overcome the challenge, that is my experience, and It is simply because they are in a Plastic Surgeon’s office, and that what have moved them to go there, is a great desire to have their surgery done, be it the reason it may be, and consciously or unconsciously, their decision has been taken.

May be it is not for you, but for many people, taking this initial step convey overcoming obstacles and fear of surgery, pain, anesthesia and death; sometimes is peer-pressure, partner’s dissent, lack of support and condemnation from significant people in patient’s life. Nevertheless, he or she is there, courageously dealing with these emotions.

Some other times, what stops patients from going for Plastic Surgery is the thought of lack of money. (Click Financial and Money Issues ), but those who are strongly decided, save faithfully to the last penny. I have had the chance to see patients that saved bill after bill until they finally go for the surgery.

First emotional question I consider therapeutic in my questionnaire is:

Is your decision to have this surgery a personal one, or to please someone else?

Honest response to this question is both one that describes reality to the deepest core of the patient, and at the same time, a validation of his genuine personal decision.

 It might be the case of a woman who feels pressure from the husband to increase her breasts but she does not wish it. Upon reading the question, she perceives two realities:  that a part of her wants to please her husband and that another very important part of her also it wishes it.

Or the case of the recently divorced person, who thinks that improving a feature of her body, is going to bring her ex-husband back. Here, emotions again strongly motivate a patient to go for a Plastic Surgery. Sometimes it could be the case, but the reality is that there are little chances that a relationship can be restored with Plastic Surgery, because the human beings relate, when there is love, and love is a feeling outbursting from inner assets, and not as much from the outside.

I have found that some patients feel guilt and shame to want an operation. It is truly surprising to witness in first consultations, how they passage from guilt to acceptance of the reality, and that reality is that, in spite of everything, they do want to have the surgery.

Another common picture, is when a patient finally decides to take care of herself, starts loving herself, and begins a diet, exercise, and aims to recover her silhouette of 20 years before, that was neglected for such a long time by taking care of home, spouse, children, work, etc. and forgetting about herself.

It is delightful to witness that transformation of thought and action.

Other therapeutic questions are those related to fear: “Do you fear this operation? A lot?  A little? or nothing? This question enormously confronts, and speaks by itself.

The following one is:” What are you afraid of in this Surgery?” The answer, if there is one, gives me a good deal of information about the person that I have in front of me. And whatever her fear is, I am in better capacity to understand her and look for ways to minimize her anxiety.

The next question is the most therapeutic of those in this series: “If you feel fear, are you willing to feel the fear and do it anyway?”

I am surprised that I have not found a single patient in years who responds no. Everyone answers: “Yes”. I feel the reason is the same that I mentioned in the first question: The motivation to be operated generally is greater than the fear or the lack of approval that can she feel among her loved ones.

The last question, I would dare to say, reveal the personal validation of the patient’s decision:

“Do you feel emotional support for this operation? From whom?

Here the majority puts their nearly related or loved ones, but in reality, which is unconsciously implicit is that the main support to be operated arises from him or herself. It had happened to find people who answer: “from myself”.

Emotions are neither bad nor good, nor we invite them to make its appearance within us. They simply appear and this is it. The question is not whether or not they appear or where do they come from, but rather what do we do with them.

If your decision to have Plastic Surgery is definite, you should be at peace with yourself, be in touch with your feelings, and the risks will be minimum, since a good deal of stress would be eliminated.

INDECISION

The origin of human indecision is in reality a conflict between what we want and what we need.

In other words, regarding Plastic Surgery, when we cannot decide if we go for a given surgery, it is because we are revolving around an inner questioning that troubles us: Do I really need this or just want it?

Whenever we can make an honest analysis and we identify what statement is stronger within us, then we yield and we arrive at a point in which there is clarity, thus choosing that one that is more powerful within us.

In the case of indecision regarding say, having a Breast Reduction: You could ask yourself: “do I need a breast reduction, is it good for me? Can I afford it? Or do I just want it?  Which of the two statements is the strongest? It is only a desire? It is my need of getting rid of the obnoxious symptoms of having large breast? Or both?  One statement probably will be more powerful than the other, so now you can validate your decision. Ask yourself the same questioning in the case of Nose Surgery or any other.

REACHBACK AND AFTERBURN

Sometimes what it does not allow us to decide is discouragement or stress. And one of the causes of stress is to intermingle the reachback with the afterburn periods.

This periods should be explain separately:

Reachback is the effect an impending atypical event can have on a person’s schedule as well as his or her mental state before the event begins.

A good example would be: a person who has to leave on Monday starts getting irritable and worried about the trip on Friday itself. He may start trying to clear his overflowing inbox, cut short his evening relaxation, start preparing and packing for the trip, worry about what clothes to take, and so on.  In this case, reachback would be of 3 days.

Reachback must be differentiated from forward planning, which is done to mitigate negative effects such as reachback.

The flip side of reachback is afterburn, which is defined as the effect a past atypical event continues to have on a person’s schedule, activities and mental state even after it is materially over.

An example of afterburn would be: “I just came back from a wonderful vacation in an splendid place, and I missed the place, the joy, everything, for 5 days after being actually back in my work. It was very difficult to keep focus in my work during these 5 days”. In this case, my afterburn period would be of 5 days.

When we engage or commit to an upcoming event still being in our afterburn period from a given happening, and we are now running in the reachback period of a forthcoming event, this is a cause for being under stress.

Therefore, it is healthful to postpone a new event in our life at least a day after the end of our afterburn period, before entering the period of reachback of the following event. Another option is just to understand it and to accept that this phenomenon is present, and to relax.

Each of us would have to know the best possible, our own reachback and afterburn periods.

I wish you a most placid journey into of your emotions, now that you going for Plastic Surgery. Feel free to call the office for an appointment to discuss these and other related topics.

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